I’ve become a big fan of apps that allow my iOS devices to interact with my Mac. A while back, I reviewed an app called Knock that allows you to unlock your Mac simply by knocking twice on your iPhone. Recently, an app called Notifyr was released that lives in the same vein. This app (which actually consists of a pair of apps, one for iOS and one for Mac) lets you receive any and all notifications from your iOS device on your Mac. Let’s take a closer look!
Set Up – As mentioned previously, Notifyr is actually a pair of apps, one for iOS and one for Mac. The iOS app is available on the App Store for $3.99. The Mac app is available on the developer’s website for free.
Upon downloading and launching the iOS app for the first time, you’ll be asked to give the app permission to access Bluetooth in order to communicate with your Mac. Fortunately, like the Knock app I previously reviewed, Notifyr uses Bluetooth Low Energy and won’t have a significant impact on your device’s battery.
The Mac app downloads as a System Preferences pane bundle, which means that instead of accessing it as a standalone app you’ll find its settings within the System Preferences app in Mac OS X. The connection between your iOS device and your Mac must be initiated from Notifyr on your Mac.
Once your devices are connected, the Notifyr app on your iOS device will display a neat little animated graphic and the Mac app will say Connected to… your device in the lower left of the preference panel.
Note that if you ever reboot your iOS device, you’ll have to launch the Notifyr app so that it can connect to your Mac again. After you launch it, though, it should do a good job of remaining running in the background and should connect automatically when in range of your Mac.
Using Notifyr – After successfully setting up Notifyr on your iOS device and your Mac and connecting them to one another, the rest is easy.
As notifications come in to your iOS device, Notifyr on your Mac will detect them and display them using Mac OS X’s native notification system.
When Notifyr pushes a notification from a new app to your Mac, that app will be added to the list in the preference panel in System Preferences. This list gives you an option to disable notifications from particular apps if you don’t wish to receive them on your Mac.
Notifyr, like Knock, does a great job of running seamlessly in the background, something that makes it feel like a native feature of iOS and Mac OS X.
I have noticed a few issues while using Notifyr. One is that often the notifications I receive most often (e.g. iMessages, calendar appointments, and Mail messages) are also natively pushed to my Mac, resulting in two notifications showing up at once. This does limit the necessity of an app like Notifyr to an extent, but the app still shines for things like text messages and third party iOS apps that aren’t available on the Mac.
Another issue I’ve noticed is that occasionally an app’s name won’t display correctly when I receive a notification on my Mac. For example, Fantastical came through as “Fa.” I’m hoping that the developer will continue to iron out this particular issue over time.
Design – Though you likely won’t spend much time in the actual Notifyr apps, they are well designed. The iOS app’s design is very reminiscent of the Knock app I reviewed previously. It uses heavily outlines and smooth animations to give you a sense of the app’s status. The Mac app integrates well with OS X’s design language since it is buried in a preference pane. It’s nice to see attention to detail when it comes to Notifyr’s design. It feels like something Apple would have designed.
Compatibility – Like the Knock app I reviewed previously, Notifyr comes with a pretty big compatibility caveat. Since the app relies on Bluetooth Low Energy to communicate between your iOS device and your Mac, you’ll need to have hardware that supports this technology. For iOS, this means you’ll need an iPhone 4s or newer. On the Mac side of things, this means you’ll need a MacBook Air (2011 or newer), a MacBook Pro (2012 or newer), an iMac (late 2012 or newer), a Mac Mini (2011 or newer), or a Mac Pro (late 2013 or newer). I have an iPhone 5 and a late 2013 iMac, so the app works well for me.
Conclusion – Apps like Notifyr and Knock are so appealing to me because they help tear down some of the barriers that currently exist between iOS and Mac OS X. As time goes on, it’s likely that Apple will continue to bring the two operating systems closer together and that we’ll have to rely less and less on apps like these to tie them. In the meantime, though, it’s great to see developers cleverly creating holes in the barrier that separates them. If you own compatible hardware and you’re someone who receives a lot of notifications on your iOS device, Notifyr can help ensure you don’t miss a beat while using your Mac.